Willbur Seldin "Bill" Todman (b. July 31, 1916 - d. July 29, 1979) was an American television and radio producer who was best known for specializing in game shows.
Todman was the son of the legendary and highly respected Wall Street accountant Frederick S. Todman, CPA. The accounting firm was known as Frederick S. Todman & Co. and for many years was located at 111 Broadway, next door to Trinity Church. Frederick S. Todman & Co. represented some of the United States' biggest companies including The New York Stock Exchange, Polaroid, Eastman Kodak, American Stock Exchange, and Chase Manhattan bank among others. Frederick S. Todman lectured in post-WWII Japan as part of the country's economic reconstruction and wrote several quintessential books on Wall Street Accounting Todman's brother Howard was Vice President and Treasurer for Goodson-Todman Productions.
Todman teamed up with Mark Goodson for radio shows. According to radio historian J. David Goldin, among their early work together was the show Treasure Salute, a program syndicated by the Treasury Department which honored military members. They later collaborated in producing game shows for radio, then moved into television, where they produced some of the longest-running game shows in history. Their many shows included: Beat the Clock, Card Sharks, Family Feud, Match Game, Password, Tattletales, The Price is Right, To Tell the Truth and What's My Line?. Though both men created the programs, Todman gradually became less involved with the day-to-day operations of the game show business and moved Goodson-Todman into a bigger business strategy. Todman was the genius behind diversifying Goodson-Todman into the newspaper, radio, and real estate business. The television business was lucrative but not nearly as much as the other business I which Todman invested, which earned millions. Goodson continued to work on game shows while Todman expanded the company. It is believed that Goodson-Todman would never have survived the roller coaster of the television business, including the slow period for game shows in the late 1960s, had Todman not been aggressive in expanding the company into other ventures.
Todman, who had a history of heart problems, died two days before his 63rd birthday. Sunday, July 29, 1979, in New York City, New York, during heart valve replacement surgery. He is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife Francis and has two children named Lia and Bill Jr.
Former Price host Bob Barker says that: "He was a delightful man. He personified a man you might aspire to be: a gentleman, personable, successful, handsome, and very intelligent. He had the attribute to sell you anything, and the intelligence to sell it beautifully. On one of my first days there, we chatted alone. His kindness and flattering remarks, that he'd admired my work [as host of Truth or Consequences] made me feel very comfortable, very much at home".
"With the original group of programs, it was always answering questions," Lisa Todman says, on why game shows appealed to her father. "He was like a sponge. No matter what the topic was, if there was knowledge, he was interested. He had a marvelous sense of humor, and he liked fun" she added. "That also drew him. But it was mainly answering questions - and you were probably out of luck if you thought you were going to beat him".
After Todman's death, Goodson acquired the Todman heirs' share of the company and in 1982 the company was renamed Mark Goodson Productions. Todman was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2011.